Marine electronics evolve at a mind-boggling pace, and it’s not just little changes. We’re talking about dramatic leaps in technology every year. From the debut of amazing Doppler radar systems to sonar imagery that rivals ultrasound images from the medical field, the evolution accelerates with every season.
That brings up the question: When is the best time to upgrade your marine electronics? Here are five ways to determine when it’s time.
Touch-Screen Multifunction Displays
If you don’t have a touch-screen multifunction display (MFD), it’s time to upgrade. Touch-screens are faster and easier to use than push-button systems. Not only are they more convenient, the speed of access to features translates to greater safety – because you’re not fiddling the MFD as much. You can keep your eyes on the water ahead, as well as quickly access information on the MFD. I liken it to the difference between a flip-phone and a smart phone. Once you get a smart phone, you’ll never go back to a flip-phone (if you can even find one). The same applies to touch-screen versus push-button MFDs.
Replacing Electronics Versus Repairing Electronics
If a piece of old electronics breaks down, upgrade. Don’t even think about sending the unit in for repair. A legacy model might be reparable, but why waste money on old technology? I know, I know, you like the old unit and you’re accustomed to it. But you’ll learn the new system quickly, and you will like it even better.
When to Upgrade Your Marine Electronics
If your electronics are more than seven years old, upgrade. Technology advances and that seven years is the equivalent to 25 years of old-school electronics. The past seven years have seen the refinement of touch-screen MFDs, chirp sonar, side-scanning sonar, 3D sonar, auto-routing, auto-charting, solid-state radar, Wi-Fi connectivity, plug-and-play system integration and much more. Availing yourself of new technology will make you a more proficient captain and help you find more fish.
Talk to Local High-liners
If leading anglers are using marine electronics you don’t currently have, it’s time to upgrade. A good example is CHIRP sonar. I resisted the temptation to switch from conventional 50/200 kHz sonar until I talked with one of the local hotshots, who was using CHIRP sonar to locate tuna and score big. One look in his fish box after a day offshore was all that I needed to go with CHIRP. It paid off for the next season when I, too, found the tuna, thanks to sonar upgrade.
New Boat, New Electronics
If you’re purchasing a new boat, upgrade. Resist the temptation to move your old electronics to a new boat just because you’re accustomed to using the old systems. Leave the old stuff on your old boat. Then work with your boat dealer or marine electronics installer to make sure you have state-of-the-art electronics on your new ride. Also, you now can network your electronics with the propulsion and other systems, something you can’t do with old electronics. Not matter what brand you choose – be it Furuno, Garmin, Humminbird, Lowrance, Raymarine or Simrad– you’ll be much happier and more successful with the advanced technology.